Hackers steal $45 million
USA Today is reporting that an alleged international gang of cyberthieves stole $45 million from thousands of ATMs in carefully coordinated attacks. Authorities in Brooklyn alleged that $2.4 million was stolen from nearly 3,000 ATMs in the metropolitan area during a two day time period in February. The schemes involved hacking into the computer systems of credit card processors, stealing information involving prepaid debit card accounts and eliminating the withdrawal limits and balances on the accounts. They then withdrew unlimited amounts of cash from ATMs. One of the attacks was targeted to prepaid MasterCard debit cards issued by the National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah, a United Arab Emirates Bank. Authorities in more than a dozen countries are working with the U.S.
Homebuilders lack skilled workers
In 2006, 3.4 million people worked in the homebuilding industry. The Associated Press reports that in 2011 that number had shrunk to 2 million. As of last month, that number was at 2.1 million. Jobs in the industry rose 4.1 percent from a year earlier, faster than other industries. The challenge is that housing starts surged 47 percent in the 12 months ending in April. The National Association of Homebuilders indicates that nearly half of its members that responded to a survey in March had to delay projects due to a lack of skilled workers. Fifteen percent had to turn projects down. The shortage of workers is the worst in Arizona, California, Texas, Colorado and Florida.
Margin debt growing for small investors
Small investors are borrowing against their portfolios at a rapid rate similar to right before the financial crisis. According to the Wall Street Journal, the trend is a sign that investors are more confident about the market than in the past. But many warn that the Federal Reserve’s policies are creating a bubble. As of the end of March, investors had $379.5 billion of margin debt at New York Stock Exchange member firms. The record was $381.4 billion set in July 2007. Margin debt in March was 28 percent higher than a year earlier. The fear is that a sudden drop in the market will be magnified if investors are forced to sell securities to pay off these debts.
FCC pushes faster in-flight Wi-fi
There may soon be better Wi-fi on a plane than in your home, according to the New York Times. The Federal Communications Commission proposed auctioning off the rights to use newly available airwaves to better improve in-flight Wi-fi. This is the first step in providing in-flight internet service that will exceed the capabilities found at home or in coffee shops. The new format would use a system of contact between a plane and the ground and should be able to allow providers to offer more consistent service that is 30 times fast than the service in most homes. Today, only a quarter of daily domestic flights have Wi-fi service.
Hooters offers Mom a free meal
In an effort to improve its opinion with Moms, Hooters is offering Mom a free entrée (up to $10) on Mother’s Day. Moms just need to bring a kid along and buy a drink. USA Today reports that many restaurant chains have Mother’s Day offers, but few are giving away a whole meal. Hooters says it want women to realize that it is somewhere that you can take Mom and is not just for men or young people. Two years ago, one in four of its customers were female, but last year that improved to one in three. Last Mother’s Day the chain gave out 15,000 free chicken wings to mothers.
Catherine S. McBreen is President of Millionaire Corner. McBreen plans and develops content for Millionaire Corner. Catherine balances editorial content to meet the informational needs of both new and seasoned investors. She designs special monthly surveys on topical issues affecting the economic environment.
McBreen has a B.S. in speech communications from Northwestern University and a J.D. from DePail University College of Law. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the Illinois Bar Association, and the Chicago Bar Association.
Well-known for her expertise in the affluent and retirement arenas, McBreen is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. She has been quoted widely by the financial media, including The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Research, Private Asset Management, On Wall Street, Reuters, Bloomberg News, The Dow Jones Newswires and Worth. Cathy has appeared as a guest on CNBC Closing Bell, First Business Morning News, Neal Cavuto at Fox Business News, ABC and CBS radio.
McBreen is co-author with Spectrem President George H. Walper, Jr. of the book "Get Rich, Stay Rich, Pass It On: The Wealth-Accumulation Secrets of America's Richest Families" (Portfolio, January 2008)
Catherine is the mother of four and is involved in many school and community events.